Amazon owns UK ebook market but sketchy in Europe

Amazon has a vice-like grip on the ebook sector in the UK which has seen pricing wars result in the country having the lowest-priced ebooks in the world.

A new report, Global eBook from Rudiger Wischenbart, estimates Amazon’s ebook share in the UK stands at nearly 80%, with the nearest local online retailer being Waterstones with just 3%.

Looking at ebook prices in Europe, the survey puts the UK as having the cheapest average ebook price while Germany is the most expensive at more than double the UK average.

The pricing pressure in the UK was illustrated this week when eight of the top 10 Kindle UK best-sellers were priced at under £1, with several being considerably lower than £1.

However, despite ebooks generally being priced much lower than print books, the report points out that ebooks are much more profitable for publishers than print books because the retailer’s share is much less.

In the US, by far the biggest single market for ebooks, Amazon’s share of sales is reckoned to be around two-thirds, while in European markets such as France and Spain, Amazon has less than half of the market, with figures of about 43% for Germany and 40% in Spain.

The report says the US publishing industry and the US public have embraced new reading formats like no other nation, with ebooks coming as a natural and permanent choice in addition to printed books.

For big publishers, the research considers that Harper Collins are getting around 39% of their total revenue from ebooks, with Macmillan on 27%, Penguin Random House on 20% (with a much bigger total turnover than the others) and Hachette with 10%.

Self-publishing’s share of ebook sales is reckoned to be around 12% in the US and 11% in the UK, but taking up to 20% in genre markets such as romance, crime, science fiction and fantasy.

Global eBook, A report on market trends and developments, is a very thorough and wide-ranging review of the worldwide ebook market and is available at